Ever since Derrick Griffin stepped foot on the campus of Texas Southern University in the fall of 2014, there has been a lot of hype behind the former 5-star athlete. With the hype also came questions, why Texas Southern? During his time with Terry High school and (AAU) basketball with Andrew and Aaron Harrison,former Kentucky standouts, Griffin received countless amount of letters from universities to be a dual athlete in both football and basketball. “It came down to Texas A&M,Miami, and Auburn. I had other schools that offered me full-rides but these three schools caught my eye.” said Griffin.
After Griffin won the state championship in basketball as a senior, he decided to commit to Texas A&M and fulfill his dream of playing college football and basketball, but that was later taken away from him from the university due to academic violations. “I couldn’t get into A&M due to my grades. My ACT score was a 18 and i had a low GPA so I couldn’t get enrolled to the school,” said Griffin.
“When I found out I couldn’t get into A&M, I wasn’t crying about it, I had 100 more offers on the table,” he added.
So that’s when he tried his luck with the University of Miami, a very prestigious school that is highly regarded as one of the top football factories for the NFL.
But shortly after the visit and moving his items into his new apartment in Miami, Griffin received a phone call saying that he couldn’t go to Miami at the time due to academics. “I couldn’t get into Miami as well, so at this point I feel like God is punishing me but I’m still not giving up. This is just a lesson learned in my life,” said Griffin.
Griffin had to settle for a predatory academy in Miami called Fort Union for a semester in order to get his grades back to where it needs to be. “It was bad. It was like boot camp, I couldn’t even have my phone for a whole semester. They took it right away. And at this point I had to ask myself, do I really want this? I haven’t been a quitter my entire life, so if I quit then I would like Im letting my family and God down,”said Griffin.
With grades being Griffin’s achilles heel, Griffin went to a prep school in Georgia to fix his problems. “I was only at this school for like a week. This is how I knew something wasn’t right, my teacher didn’t even know who I was but told me, I didn’t belong here, you don’t need to be here. That right there was the turning point and I told myself, I’m not messing this up again,”said Griffin.
While at these prep schools, Griffin was asked to play sports for these schools but instead didn’t wanna settle for that.
“I had a chance to go to Blinn and play sports but I didn’t wanna settle for that.”
Griffin’s time in high school, plenty of people at his high school had a feeling that he would be a pro player someday, but never offered to help him and better him as a student in the classroom. “I always had a chip on my shoulder my whole life, I was always a helping person, but never received that same treatment, and spending time at the prep schools made me realize that I had to earn everything myself with no help,”said Griffin.
Shortly after leaving the prep school, Griffin had a limited amount of universities to choose from including Texas Southern. “I had a chance to go back to Miami but didn’t want to wait a year to play, so I chose to come back to my home of Houston,Texas and play sports,”said Griffin.
Griffin didn’t receive a phone call from the Athletic Director, nor the coaches in either football and basketball, but Mr.Greer, a worker inside the Bell building that is great friends with his Uncle. “TSU needs to thank Mr.Greer, he is the reason why I attended TSU, the coaches knew who I was, but they didn’t call me. It was a guy that was good friends with my uncle and plays a huge part in my life,”said Griffin.
Griffin was quickly put on the football and basketball team that year but had to redshirt the first season. “I wasn’t on scholarship, they knew who I was so they put me on the team. It wasn’t a problem because I workout everyday, so it wasn’t a problem getting me on the team,”said Griffin.
In 2015, Griffin played football and basketball for the first time since being a senior at Terry High School in 2013. “My mother seen me play for the first time at the Labor Day Classic in my first year playing college ball. She just heard about me, never seen me play AAU ball, no middle school, high school, TSU was her first time ever and it just so happens it was my first time since high school,”said Griffin.
Shameka Lockridge, the mother of Griffin, was arrested and sent to jail when he was at the age of nine, then sent back again at the age of 12 and was released in 2015.
With Griffin’s mother being home, she has still been a huge part in his life and she plays a huge role in his success today. “I seen my mom get stabbed in front of me, almost died in front of me. That made me the man that I am today,”said Griffin.
Griffin’s first year at Texas Southern he finished with all-conference in both football and basketball, SWAC defensive player of the year, newcomer of the year, and SWAC player of the year in his first full year of collegiate sports.
In 2016 during football season, the university hired a new coaching staff including former Miami of Ohio and Pittsburgh coach Michael Haywood. Under Haywood, Griffin only played one game for the team and was suspended week three of the season due to violating team rules, exactly one hour after being named one of the nominees of player of the year.
A few days later, Texas Southern decided to give Griffin another chance by letting him rejoin the team next season, But then decided to decline the offer and join basketball early. “After I seen they didn’t put me on the key players list before the season I just knew something wasn’t right. And once they said I was kicked off the team, I had the opportunity to come back the next season but I called Coach Mike Davis and said I’m going to quit and come to basketball,”said Griffin.
Griffin played 13 non-conference games and averaged a double-double with 11.3 points per game with 11 rebounds per game. Shortly after, Griffin decided to skip the conference play and put his name in the NFL Draft this upcoming March. “It was difficult to tell Coach Davis that I was going to declare for the NFL draft and miss the conference season, but I had to do what was best for me.,”said Griffin.
Griffin spent two years on campus at Texas Southern, while people knew who he was based off of sports, many people didn’t really know what type of man he was off the field. “I felt like a normal guy on campus, I don’t do the whole hype thing, I’m not into the hype, I’m a humble guy, people look at me like I’m big but I look at myself like a regular guy. I still have something to prove, I’m not there yet. Only a few guys really know who I am, such as Dwayne Washington, Jalen McCloud, Eric Williams, Billy Rosenberg, Tray Walker, and Jamal Smalls. People are going to look at me and see how I dress and think I’m a cocky guy, but I’m really not. I’m a humble guy that loves nice things and wants to look presentable,”said Griffin.
Looking back at his high school days, Griffin wished that he could’ve did things a little bit different but at the same time doesn’t regret anything in his life and had some advice for people that are going through the same thing he went through during the early parts of his life.
“If you going to do something then do it. Don’t play with it, don’t take things for granted. I didn’t do much in high school. The people that are playing at high D-1 level schools and the ones that are playing pro ball right now, I don’t think they can do what I did. And that is going two years without playing sports fresh off a 5 star level career in high school in both basketball and football. I feel like they would give up trying and just go work somewhere. It’s sad to see great guys with great talent go to waste,”said Griffin.
Griffin also elaborates on his daily schedule during his time at Terry High school and what most high school athletes go through on the daily basis.
“High school was easy, anyone could’ve been a superstar and that’s because you have nothing in life to worry about. It was just wake up, go to school, play ball, go home, and repeat it everyday. But once you go to college then the situation changes, what if you going through something with your mom or you about to have a kid? Everyone have different routes, I never judge anyone, who am i to judge? I don’t expect anyone to judge me,”said Griffin.
Griffin’s Pro Day and NFL Combine will be coming in the next month and everyone across the nation expects him to be drafted during Draft weekend.